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Mom Jailed Because She Let Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Play in the Park Unsupervised

Posted by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 3:41 AM
  • 138 Replies
1 mom liked this

Not that I agree either way, but makes one wonder...

What do you think?

ETA  I have been on here for years and this was my first featured post!  Thanks Admin!

Just in case you thought you could parent whatever way you see fit in 2014 America:

A North Augusta mother is in jail after witnesses say she left her nine-year-old daughter at a nearby park, for hours at a time.

Hours at a time? At a park? In the summer? Gosh! That certainly sounds normal and fun like a reason to throw a mom in jail—and place the child in state custody.

Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald's in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald's has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.

Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a "splash pad," and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied.

The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl "abandoned" and proceeded to arrest the mother.

Watch the news: It sounds like Debra Harrell committed a serious, unconscionable crime. The reporter looks ready to burst with contempt. But what are the facts? She let her daughter play at the park for several hours at a time—like we did as kids. She gave her a daughter a phone if she needed to call. Any "danger" was not only theoretical, it was exceedingly unlikely.

But, "What if a man would've come and snatched her?" said a woman interviewed by the TV station.

free-range-kidsTo which I must ask: In broad daylight? In a crowded park? Just because something happened on Law & Order doesn't mean it's happening all the time in real life. Make "what if?" thinking the basis for an arrest and the cops can collar anyone. "You let your son play in the front yard? What if a man drove up and kidnapped him?" "You let your daughter sleep in her own room? What if a man climbed through the window?" etc.

These fears pop into our brains so easily, they seem almost real. But they're not. Our crime rate today is back to what it was when gas was 29 cents a gallon, according to The Christian Science Monitor. It may feel like kids are in constant danger, but they are as safe (if not safer) than we were when our parents let us enjoy the summer outside, on our own, without fear of being arrested. 

But because some busybody thought she knew more about this girl's safety than the girl's own mother, a family has been separated. Harrell is in jail and the child is in the custody of the Department of Social Services. If only the girl had spent her whole summer sitting in McDonald's—surfing the internet and eating a Big Mac instead of playing outside and getting fresh air—this never would have happened.

by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 3:41 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Anonymous 1 on Jul. 18, 2014 at 3:59 AM
4 moms liked this
I don't know how I feel about this
I thinks it's strange that she thought it was ok to leave a child for hours alone
by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:03 AM
It really depends on what hours at a park means. 2 okay 5 no. Did the kid even have food or water? Yes we played all day but we were close to home to have food and water. How far is the park from the mothers work? In this day and age tbh no I would never let my 9 year old do that alone. We we grew up we knew all our neighbors and they would help keep an eye on us. This time is so different. When I grew up I had a park behind my house and about 4 others close by.
by Anonymous 2 on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:03 AM
1 mom liked this
The control is getting stronger! This is ridiculous!
by Platinum Member on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:05 AM
That's a tough one.
by Anonymous 3 on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:06 AM
2 moms liked this
Times have certainly changed. Growing up, I was sent outside to play and told not to come inside until it was to dark to see. Living in a small town we ran the streets from one end of town to the other. As an adult and a parent, I live in a community like that now.
by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:14 AM
There was a post yesterday about a nine year old alone at a park with a splash pad. Hm.

by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:17 AM

If we lived across the street and I could see them, I would say yes, but we live 3 blocks away. dd is 11 I let her go with friends if a parent is going with.

by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:19 AM
3 moms liked this
Fuck that if I cant see you , no go,
by Anonymous 4 on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:22 AM
3 moms liked this

Actually, the more people there are around the easier it is to abduct a child ... 

by The Major on Jul. 18, 2014 at 4:30 AM
I can't judge without knowing all the details. But I wouldn't do it. A young disabled girl from a neighbouring town was kidnapped, raped, killed and probably eaten but we won't know all the details yet. And if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

No one's suggesting keep kids locked inside all summer, just go along with them!
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